Pet-Peeve-Rant #113: Blaming God

I’ve got a BIG mouth. Combine that with my invisible soapbox and it can be an awful mess.

It’s my spiritual gift (add whatever level of sarcastic-tone you want here to feel better about me, I always do.)

I recently joined a new small group, of mostly women I know, love, and trust. In small groups of past, my invisible soapbox often came out during gatherings…appropriately because issues of wrong and right with Jesusy matters is where my passion lies. The few women in this new group who know me, have put up with my moments— and still love me. So I’m stickin’ with them—not to mention how fabulously wonderful they are.

This new small group was rapidly rolling through a study called “Women of God”. It was generic enough that the author could change the title to “Men of God”, fix a couple pronouns, and easily republish the book.  On one hand I appreciate this because studies that get into being a Proverbs 31 woman or being a gody-can-do-everything mom make me want to use the study book like a Frisbee. I think a vast majority of women are already bent and tired of hearing the accolades of Solomon’s (or Lemuel’s) perfect idea of the Stepford Wife. So on that I digress. And when it comes to studies revisiting motherhood at every turn, well—I have no kids. Books that over focus on this may be great for some—but are quite useless to me. Women who don’t have kids often feel like a fifth-wheel in Bible Studies, and mothers are overly interested in why we are childless… It just gets a bit invasive. One day soon I will rant about this very subject from my perspective (and soapbox).

Right, back to my invisible soapbox. Honestly I don’t mean to carry it around with me.  Most of the time I’m unaware of its presence. But it takes the slightest of ungraceful remarks or comments that slap the face of justice, and like the best quick-draw sharp-shooter my box is out and I’m ready to hop up.

I don’t always hop up on my box, but inside I’m poised like a sprint runner in the starting blocks. And in a new group with women I haven’t bonded with yet—I try to be extra cautious. But this one day, I could no longer contain myself.

We were talking about perseverance, something I know too much about these days. In fact too many of us know too much about this topic. Things were going along smoothly, we were sharing stories of grace and perseverance when out of nowhere someone lobs onto the end of a story, “You just have to wonder why God is testing them so much.”

I heard that gunshot and I was a wild racer off the blocks. It didn’t help that it smarted of a comment I recently heard; someone openly wondered why another was going through such heartache and what sin must be present in their life that brought on the storm.

I was already primed blurting, “God does NOT work up schemes to test us. There is free-will, and it messes up this world, and bad things happen. I do NOT believe for one moment that God tests us like that. God does not produce heartache and misfortune, He doesn’t create these moments. But He DOES know how to work theses messes for His good; and perseverance allows us to muddle through and bring glory to God.” I rambled for a moment and then saw wide eyes staring back at me.

Oh great, I’ve done it again… Some of these women knew nothing of me and my soapbox until today. One even thought I was the “shy” type. I hope I wasn’t too wild with the fire in my belly.

*****

I don’t know why I get so riled-up about erroneously blaming God (even when it’s done innocently without that intention). It’s like someone trying to say a bad thing about my husband, or brother, or close friends. I’m gonna defend them to the ground when someone mis-characterizes them—because I know their hearts. And even though I might not understand God and all His wonderful and frustrating ways—I think I know a smattering of His heart. Just like I think I understand a mother’s heart even though I do not bear that title.

A mother allows a child to face tough stuff—never wanting a scraped knee, bruised heart, or tear to come to her child. But life happens, and we learn that a stove is hot, bubblegum creates a rat’s nest in hair, and when you hit your brother—9 out of 10 times you’re gonna get clobbered back. All lessons a mother would rather not have you learn the hard way. And isn’t God just the same? He will never place a hot stove under your hand nor leave you without enough patience to walk away from a fight. He doesn’t set out to let a child die, a woman get raped, a family become homeless, or a man paralyzed at the hands of a drunk driver. That is not God. That is free-will, nature, and the world.

God is good. All the time.

The world and people are faulty. All of the time.

*****

With awkward grace I put my invisible soapbox away. And let others (the women I love) restate my passion into more eloquent and soft words.

I may never fully grow-up and master the art of tempered Holy-Spirit fire. I might never learn to control my “spiritual gifts”. So, I’ll be gun-shy with my soapbox for a short-bit and hope for a better performance the next time.

Copyright © 2009- 2011 Sherry Meneley . All Rights Reserved . soiledwings.com . sherrymeneley.com . soiled wings

24 thoughts on “Pet-Peeve-Rant #113: Blaming God

  1. I don’t know why I am tested. I’m ready to turn in my paper to the teacher. I don’t want to take any more tests. God will chose to test me again and I will ask the same question, “I wonder why God is testing me so much?” Praise songs don’t help me and cliches leave me empty. No one can understand the depth of suffering that God does put a person through for his purpose. If God did not test, there would be no refiners fire and we could not be refined. I don’t get it, why he tests, but he does and it hurts.

    Job 1:12 (NLT)
    “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses.

    Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NLT)
    2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.
    3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

    James 1:2-3 (NLT)
    2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
    3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

    I wish it were different and I could blame sin, but God has chosen to test us to reveal something better, something greater and something that will usher his Kingdom near. In the midst of the test, it’s tough to see and even tougher to swallow…gulp.

    • Just like a mother allows “testing” – she knows it’s the only way for the child to learn. BUT only messed up moms creates testing and set traps – God’s not messed up and doesn’t set His kids up for disaster. To pull a verse out of the hat and out of context “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” Jer 29:11
      ps: James 1:2-3 – like it ! …but (soapbox appears) I just don’t think all the various ways of faith is tested is produced by God, rather He permits those things to happen instead of intervening with the world. If He intervened with the world at every turn, we would be as useful as a 4 year old – we’d never mature. Again, free-will is the paradox invention, the double edge sword, God’s most mysterious thing He produced and permits.

      • Produced by God or chosen by God or allowed by God all feel the same to the one being tested. If it’s easier to think God is unable or unwilling to stop our pain I guess that could work for some but I think if he selects suffering that he did not create but allows us to experience it’s just two sides of the same coin. You might feel better about it but it does not change the fact that you suffer, God knows and he is not planning to stop it.

        God killed women and children in the Old Testament, he told a father to kill his son (spared at the last moment), he gave some great lives and others (who were very faithful) lives of suffering. I don’t know why but God is not nearly as warm and fuzzy as our current westernized Christian culture professes. I know I sound like a heretic and negative person but it’s just where I am right now. Sorry about using your blog to vomit off my soap box. I look forward to the day when I can celebrate the goodness of God without the reality of suffering in my own life.

  2. Thank you thank you for your SOAPBOX!!! This was amazing to read and spoke directly to me… From God to you to me 🙂

  3. Since Doug jumped in first, I’ll get out my own Irish Spring wood-slat shipping container and chime in. (And let me tell you, for me it has to be a VERY WELL-BUILT BOX! before I’ll climb up onto it!)

    Agreed: We can trust God not to be malicious, wicked, bi-polar, or disingenuous. He works from motives all together different than, say, Snow White’s step-mother or the judicial malefactor of Saw (not that I ever watch that stuff–I’m just culturally aware). Whatever he does, whenever he does it, and whomever he does it to, it is always and ever motivated by love. That love is way beyond us, but yet quite just and practical.

    Agreed: (I think?) That God is sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient. He is in control, has the power to implement it, and knows everything there is to know so he can use that power with all justice and grace and love.

    Agreed: That while God possesses all that stuff, we still have completely free will; we can choose exactly what we will do in every situation.

    Agreed: That the last two agreements seem diametrically opposed. They are not merely oxymoronic, they are impossible. From a human, finite perspective. But I believe that both are absolutely true. I just don’t know how it works.

    Agreed: That sin (Thanks again, A&E!) has introduced and continues to perpetuate unbelievable evil.

    Problem: Who do we blame?

    Scripture gives models to follow. In Psalms and Lamentations, as well as other places, writers clearly blame God. Sure–they see the sin, they notice the brokenness, they identify the perps. But in the end, they take their complaints to the only one who is qualified to sit behind the Everlasting Complaint Desk – God.

    And then there’s Job. Job is a treatise on this whole issue. Job’s friends, like so many women in a Bible study, (or so many men in an accountability group–don’t ask me how I know), want to blame Job. It must be him. It must be his sin or his weakness or his laziness that has fostered these unspeakable tragedies in his life. Job, with what was probably his only strength left, argues otherwise. He insists on his innocence and God’s goodness!

    But in the end, Job takes his beef right up to the Everlasting Complaint Department and submits his long list of grievances.

    God’s response? “You’re little. I’m huge. Deal with it.”

    Agreed: That it sucks royally to be in pain–to suffer, to watch people you love dearly suffer. My brother acquired cerebral palsy when he was two. I grew up knowing him as a bent, spastic, herky-jerky lovable big brother who could not eat, talk, or move any part of his body willfully save his face, with which he could laugh and cry. He was mentally brilliant but physically broken. To whom do I go to bitch about this?!

    If I go to the usual suspects: Satan, man, woman, doctors, drugs, sin, brokenness, etc., it works for a while, until I see God over there, offstage in the wings of the universe, with his hands all tied up and a shrug in his shoulders and a look on his face that says, “Sorry – what was I supposed to do?”

    In the end, I’d rather put my trust in his hands being free, his face full of love and sorrow and tears and joy, and in knowing that he is just and righteous and powerful and awesome and way, way, WAY, beyond the know-ability of the likes of little old me. Which is exactly what he told Job, who had the balls to ask.

    [Carefully climbing down off the box now–it was beginning to creak and sway].

  4. Sherry – I think more people should use their God given soap boxes, and you should keep using yours as you’re right – it is a gift – no, really. Jesus only really asks us to do two things – be salt (that usually involves a soapbox) and light (that measns taking a stand and speaking from your heart). So box on my friend.

    • Yes, Sherry…God allows things to happen, the crap to fall where it may, so that afterwards, where we all seem to have 20/20 hindsight, we may give Him all the Glory due His Name. @Doug, I know you are in a rotten place just now…but God isn’t through with you yet. We, with our human eyes, can only see what is behind us, yet God sees what is ahead. I don’t pretend to know what you are going through or to minimize its significance or pain. I DO know He knows, and that is enough. He only gives us enough light to see the step we are on right now, for right now is all we have.
      @Ron..Agreed!” God’s response–you’re little, I AM huge–deal with it!”
      I know He loves me enough to be right. Everything I go through is “Father-filtered”; He knows about it and has allowed it to happen so His Glory may be shown.

      We all sit under this ‘drainpipe of life’ where crap falls on our heads, weighing us down. Sometimes you just have to wipe the crap off your head so you can be ready for the next moment.
      Welcome to MY soapbox!

  5. We love your spiritual gift/soap box – it adds depth to our group (and so much insight to me personally). Think: “I know, RIGHT!” 🙂

    Again, a beautiful piece of work, awesome material that I think everyone struggles with, and incredible remarks by all. You have all given me even more to think about and apply to my life! Thanks!

  6. I’m enjoying the lively banter and thoughtful discussion on a tough subject. The “drain pipe” reference feels more realistic than the old-fashioned “under the spout where the glory comes out!”

  7. I can only say thanks for opening up the floor for comments such as these. I seem to be struggling with some of the same issues. I want to be a warrior champion for God but too many times, with too many people, I end up trying to defend something that I don’t understand myself. I make a miserable mess of it. How can I possibly find the words to make sense of a God to someone who is living my worst nightmare…a terminal cancer diagnosis, the unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of home and family. “God has His reasons and He loves you.” has a pretty hollow ring to it when the person desperately wants answers. Most of the time, I end up crying right along with them, maybe semi-angry at God for not stepping in, just this once. My heart breaks. I’d like to think God’s does too.

    So, while I’m up here on my own soapbox, I’ll say that God is still the biggest mystery of all to me. I never doubt His existence (the world He created proves that to me) or His power (I’ve seen him change people and circumstances for the better too many times to doubt Him). Whether He tests us or not really isn’t the issue. We all know HE CAN but sometimes HE DOESN”T. Why? Can’t blame some folks for seeing Him as a big lightening bolt slinger rather than the grandfatherly “climb up on my lap and let me love on you a minute” type.
    I sure hope one day we will all have an “ahhh” moment in eternity when it all makes sense. For now, down here, we have to trust in the goodness of God even when the situation looks like anything but.

  8. Sherry, I know we are sisters ( in Christ ), because I do the same thing!!! I wish I would very softly climb on my soapbox and say ever so kindly…but I just start turning over all those tables and running all those ” Holy Ones ” out of the Temple. You have, again written a beautiful, beautiful article that has touched my heart. God has blessed us so with your WINGS! Thank you, Vickie

  9. I read this last week and apparently the kiddos distracted me from posting my comment…

    whatever you do Sherry, please do not be gun shy with your soapbox or ever try to control your spiritual gifts… This world needs you and the Holy Spirit that lives in you. Speak it out. Write it down and be what God has called you to be.

    Enough said.

    🙂

  10. As a VERY new Christian, and a BiPolar survivor, I was very much enjoying reading this blog until I came across the comment by “Ron” above.

    Please tell me why being BiPolar means to you and the world at large that I am incapable of sane and rational thought? And that I am not created in God’s image, just as the rest of you? I am very very New to Christian life, as stated, and reading that comment was a knife in my heart, just as been my whole life and society’s continuous callousness to my disease. To hear that cold indifference cross the lips (fingertips) of a Christian greatly hurts and confuses me and makes me second guess my new life.

    I sincerely apologize for hijacking this comment thread, but I just can not contain my thoughts on this matter. I felt very moved to state my feelings. Thank you for listening.

    • Bren – thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so sorry that something offended you. Of course I’d be lying if I claimed to have never used the term bipolar in loose terms. I have. And it sometimes is the best way to explain those feelings of opposites that we all go through. I swear we all have some undiagnosed bipolar in us, some have it greater than others. But I think what Ron was saying – and I’d agree – that we can be so thankful that God is not like that. He’s consistent. More consistent than any of us will ever be in our various states.

      Bren, I look at David writing his Psalms – and I honestly think he suffered from this very thing. And I take comfort in knowing how much God loved David, and how he used this man to write meaningful parts of the Bible, exposing those drastically opposite feelings…great joy and celebration and in the next verse deep sorrow and pain. And ultimately David was part of the lineage to Jesus. I think this is amazing and assuring. God uses ALL of us, and maybe even creates us like David… our worldly terms of “perfect” are not God’s definition.

      Bren, also, I know where that “knife in my heart” comes from. There are terms I cannot handle even in the most casual of conversations. If someone says “rape” (ie: “they rally raped that sales-table”) I really freak out. We all have our triggers – sorry you had to have that reaction here.

  11. Bren,

    Thank you for confronting me. I sincerely apologize, and agree that I was a little flip in my prose. I have a habit of that, and sometimes I’m not careful enough. Please know that the comment was not meant to in any way demean or denounce those who suffer with bi-polar disorder. Dear people very close to me deal with the problem, and so I know some of your suffering, albeit not first-hand.

    That being said, I think you would agree that sometimes we diagnose God with disorders like ours. Some see God as schizophrenic. Some believe he is more mildly neurotic. Some are convinced he comes from a highly dysfunctional family. When I say that, I’m not bad-mouthing those that suffer, nor am I providing an accurate theology. As all the kids say these days, “I’m just sayin’ . . .”

    Thanks for calling me out. I will be more careful in the future.

    Ron

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